Tag Archives: Barco

Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 24 September 2014

Iosono lab

IOSONO – when 11.1 speakers just ain’t enough.

Barco is doubling down on its immersive audio efforts by hiring away IOSONO’s audio team and setting up what is now called Barco Audio Technologies [BAT?]. This could potentially mean moving away from a dependance on the Auro brand and Auro Technologies partnership, though the latter is quoted on how thrilled they too are about the new corporate sibling’s arrival.

With 500 screens committed or installed, Barco is now ready to take immersive sound to the next level. The digital cinema leader is adding the team of 3D audio expert IOSONO and its assets to the Barco family to further enhance and customize its object based immersive sound technology. In this way, it wants to help cinema exhibitors bring even more magic to the movie-going experience.  LINK

And since Barco does not have any film immediately lined up to follow “The Maze Runner” for its Escape triptych-screen it is venturing into event cinema, by announcing a concert film with Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett.

Barco will collaborate with Universal Music/Interscope Records and recording artists Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga to bring their performance at the Grand Palace in Brussels into Barco Escape theaters in early 2015.

The performance will be filmed today specifically for the Barco format, the day before Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s “Cheek to Cheek” album of jazz and popular standards is set to release worldwide.  LINK

Everstone

The interest in India’s multiplex business is heating up, with yet another private equity company talking to two multiplex veterans about setting up a new cinema venture called Cinemasia, that could be looking beyond just India.

Private equity fund Everstone Capital may team up with two individuals with experience in the entertainment industry to start a venture called Cinemasia, three people familiar with the development said. Everstone is in talks with Shravan Shroff, the former promoter and managing director of multiplex operator Fame India Ltd, and Pramod Arora, who recently quit PVR Ltd as group president, the people said on condition of anonymity.

And:

This would be Everstone’s maiden venture in the multiplex business, which has already attracted other private equity funds. Renuka Ramnath-promoted Multiples Alternate Asset Management Pvt Ltd and L Capital Asia, the third party private equity fund of LVMH Group, backed PVR Ltd to acquire Cinemax India Ltd in November 2012. Before selling off Fame, Shroff also raised capital from India Value Fund and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd.  LINK

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Barco Escape Gets First Real World Test With “Maze Runner”

Maze Runner In Barco Escape

This weekend’s North American debut of Twentieth Century Fox’s “Maze Runner” is enabling Barco to move forward with a new product initiative it first announced at CinemaCon earlier this year.

Barco Escape is an immersive offering being developed by the digital cinema projector manufacturer that wraps three screens around the audience to provide a 270 degree viewing experience. The additional screens are placed to the left and right of the main screen, extending the projection surface and placing images in an audience’s peripheral vision.

The existing visuals of a film shown in the Barco Escape format are not simply extended onto these new screens. Supplemental visual material must be created specifically for the increased projection areas. That is exactly what Barco had to do for the Escape version of “Maze Runner” showing in the following five specially equipped theatres throughout the United States:

  • Cinemark 18 & XD at the Promenade at Howard Hughes Center in Los Angeles
  • Cinemark Paradise 24 & XD in Davie, Florida
  • Cinemark Legacy Theatre & XD in Plano, Texas
  • Cinemark at Seven Bridges and Imax in Woodridge, Illinois
  • Cinemark’s Redwood Downtown & XD in Redwood City, California

It should be noted that each of these cinemas is owned and operated by Cinemark, a circuit that is predominantly outfitted with Barco projectors. Presumably the exhibitor is assisting the manufacturer with what Barco’s CinemaVangelist Ted Schilowitz refers to as a “technology experiment”.

“We are in probably phase two of something that is not completed yet,” Schilowitz told an audience of press and industry professionals last Wednesday evening before a special screening of the Escape version of “Maze Runner” at the Cinemark 18 in Los Angeles. “You are all getting a sneak peek of something behind the curtain. We have been working with a visual effects team on helping create some of this movie magic.”

Schilowitz was referring to the seven minutes of “Maze Runner” that are projected in the Barco Escape format. This includes the opening scene and an action sequence in the middle of the film. The vfx team will continue to work on “Maze Runner” so that in two or three months an estimated 16 to 18 minutes of the movie will be in the Escape format.

Production of content in the Escape format is one of the biggest hurdles to its adoption. The team working on “Maze Runner” utilized a gaming engine from Crytek a German video game company, to speed up the production of the computer generated visuals. The images were then rendered by supercomputers from Devil & Demon, a company for which Schilowitz serves as president.

Inside a cinema the Barco Escape format requires that an existing theatre be retrofitted not only with two additional screens on the left and right walls, but also with two additional projectors. Unlike the projector that throws the original movie onto the main screen from a projection booth in the back of an auditorium, the two ancillary projectors are mounted to the ceiling inside an auditorium and cast images across the theatre to a screen on the opposite wall.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 5 September 2014

Selfridge cinema

London’s luxury department store Selfridges (star of the ITV drama series about its eponymous American founder) will be one of the first stores in the world to have its own in-house cinema. We like the look of it so much that we even break our usual policy of only posting on photo per story to show you both the outside (above) and inside (below) – so no artwork for China BO.

Selfridges opens the world’s first department store cinema in its iconic Oxford Street store today, which will screen classic and contemporary films.

Selfridges has teamed up with the independent chain Everyman to install the 60-seat 3,500 sq ft experience, located on the store’s lower-ground floor.

The cinema, which will be at Selfridges until spring 2015, will initially screen films selected by designers from the store’s Masters campaign, which showcases the work of 12 influential designers such as Paul Smith, Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta.  LINK

Selfridge cinema

China (PRC) – Chinese Mainland box office it set to pass USD $5 billion this year, according to THR.

China’s box office has just passed the key 20 billion yuan ($3.26 billion) threshold, a full three months faster than last year, and is already swiftly approaching last year’s $3.55 billion total.

With a raft of major Hollywood and domestic titles still to come this year in the world’s second-biggest film market, box office is on track for $5 billion in full-year 2014, according to M1905, which is the official website of the state broadcaster’s movie channel, CCTV6.

It took 246 days to break through the 20-billion-yuan marker, which is 96 days faster than last year.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 5 August 2014

Carmike Cinema logo

USA – Carmike has released its quarterly figures and discussed them in a conference call. Overall the company claims to be weathering the downturn pretty well, despite a drop in profits of over 50%, with a strong recent focus on M&As. Here is what S. David Passman III, the company’s President and CEO had to say.

Carmike once again outperformed the overall domestic box office in revenue and attendance during the quarter, which was a challenging period for the U.S. market, due to very strong box office results posted during the second quarter of 2013. Despite the domestic industry decline of almost 7%, Carmike’s admissions revenues actually increased by 7% during the three month period, and our total attendance grew 4%.

On a per screen basis, our box office receipts declined less than 1%. In fact, Carmike’s per screen performance was nearly 600 basis points better than the overall industry. As I have said in the past, while the film slate will vary from quarter-to-quarter, our expanded scale and companywide emphasis on customer service excellence, combined with our growing circuit of high quality theater, remain important factors in our ability to generate favorable operating results over the long term.  LINK

barco_logo

Brazil – Barco is the projector supplier for the recent Doremi/Quanta deal that we wrote about yesterday. Some insights into the market from the press release.

Digital cinema expert Barco is proud to announce that it has recently closed a deal with integrator Quanta DGT to supply 500 digital cinema projectors to theaters in Brazil through a Virtual Print Fee (VPF) financing model. Many of the largest cinema exhibitors – Cinesystem, GNC, Cine Sercla, CineShow, CineArt, AFA Cinemas, PlayArte, Arcoplex, Cinematográfica Araujo – and dozens of small exhibitor groups have chosen to go digital with Barco digital cinema projectors.

While Brazil is the world’s tenth most important cinema market in admissions, the digitization percentage has been quite low for a long time: only around 38% of the 2,500 screens were digitized by the end of 2013. Recent public policies encouraging exhibitors to digitize their screens, including the VPF program, are taking hold and over 70% of the country’s exhibitors have already joined the program. Many of them rely on the support of system integrator Quanta DGT who, together with global digital cinema leader Arts Alliance Media have VPF agreements with the Hollywood studios to fund the rollout of digital cinema across Latin America.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wed/Thur 18-19 June 2014

With Patrick von Sychowski still in Barcelona attending CineEurope, I have been tasked with curating the daily digest posts in his absence. Celluloid Junkie readers (i.e. you) have been telling us lately how much you like the daily digest and I’ll do my best to keep it up as best I can.

Needless to say, the past few days have been filled with news coming out of CineEurope. Not only do we have Patrick’s live blog of the conferences panel sessions, but there is no shortage of press releases being published by industry vendors. Here’s a summary of some of the releases which contained new, updated or relevant information:

Technology

JT Bioscopen Hilversum

Artists rendering of JT Bioscopen cinema being built in Hilversum Media Park

Barco: As is their custom during trade shows, the projector manufacturer has had their public relations department working over time during CineEurope. On Tuesday came news that JT Bioscopen will install a Barco laser projector at one of its multiplexes. More precisely, d-cinema integrator dcinex will install the Barco 6 primary Laser3D (6P) laser-illuminated projector at JT Bioscopen’s new seven-screen complex at Hilversum Media Park.

JT Bioscopen is the second largest cinema chain in the Netherlands (behind Pathé) with 21 multiplexes in 19 different cities. The circuit converted entirely to digital in 2011.

Here’s a nice little factoid front the release:

Known as ‘Holland’s Hollywood’, the Hilversum Media Park houses all major Dutch TV and radio stations, production houses, studios and other companies in the audiovisual and entertainment business.

You learn something new everyday. Granted, Barco was probably hoping that their announcement would help educate people about their 60,000-lumen laser projector which, thanks to the company’s Alchemy technology, can show 4K content at 60 frames per second or in 3D, all while minimizing speckle and thus the need for a mechanical vibrating-screen. But that bit about Holland’s Hollywood seemed like a good piece of trivia worth passing along. LINK

Now, while we’re on the subject of Barco, the company also announced that the relatively new Barco Alchemy Integrated Cinema Media Processor (say that ten times fast) is now fully integrated with Arts Alliance Media’s Screenwriter Theater Management System (TMS). Actually, Screenwriter is the first TMS to be support Barco’s new ICMP (which is how all the cool kids refer to the Integrated Cinema Media Processor). The good news is that any AAM customer already using Screenwriter will also get an upgrade featuring the Alchemy integration, not just customers that deploy the software in the future.

Naturally, Screenwriter already supports a multitude of cinema equipment from various industry vendors. It is, after all, a TMS. This is just the latest integration AAM has completed. Rich Phillips, CTO of AAM, explained this much better in the release, stating:

“We support all the key servers and media blocks, enabling exhibitors to use equipment from different vendors in the same facility seamlessly. We are delighted to be able to now offer the same support for the innovative Barco Alchemy product, giving exhibitors the freedom to make technology decisions that are not limited by compatibility with their existing systems.”

Yeah, Mr. Phillips did a much better job of what I was trying to explain.

Speaking of which, since it’s fairly new we should probably tell you that the Barco ICMP is what is known as an integrated cinema processor, or if you want to sound hip, an ICP. The DCI-approved module goes a step beyond decoding encrypted content as a media block and adds the functionally of a media server onto a single board. This is meant to reduce the amount of digital cinema equipment in the booth. Barco is putting the Alchemy ICMP into all of its new d-cinema projectors, though any of the company’s Series 2 projectors can support the technology. Hard to believe all that fits into the device shown below. LINK

Barco Alchemy ICMP

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CineEurope 2014: Immersive Sound Focus Session

Immersive Audio Panel at CineEurope 2014

With just 60 seats in a temporary room the middle of the trade show, there are 30+ people standing at the back. Either the immersive audio session is a wild success or the venue is too small. And there is plenty of surround sound which can be seen throughout the rest of the show.  The following are highlights from the panel discussion as submitted via iPhone:

Dave Monk of the European Digital Cinema Forum says time is short and wants to gets to grips with, ‘what is immersive sound’.

Brian Claypool from Barco talks about Auro and a “natural sense of immersion” that was cost effective that could easily integrate with existing workflows. “Let’s have the premium experience at the cinema,” he says. Monk asks what key differentiator between 5.1 surround and immersive audio is. In one word, ‘height’. Three levels – two 5.1 plus overhead sound.

Stuart Bowling (standing in for Dean Bullock?) from Dolby says that sound had taken a backseat as a way to transport you away as a cinemas goer. “Pushing the envelope pushed us to Atmos. Sounds is that narrative of motion pictures that gives you an emotional response.”

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 16 June 2014

CineEurope Logo

Patrick von Sychowski has been at the Cannes Lions in Cannes, France over the last four days and is presently traveling to Barcelona, Spain to attend CineEurope. While Patrick is traveling I will be doing my best to keep up our daily digest of news related to motion picture exhibition and distribution. Please bear with me. Patrick is scheduled to be back online tomorrow, June 17th, with live coverage from CineEurope.

People

Bill Beck

Barco: The company is taking its move into laser projectors seriously. The digital cinema projector manufacturer has hired industry veteran Bill Beck to assist the company’s research and sales efforts. Beck is the co-founder and former chairman of the Laser Illuminated Projector Association (LIPA). He has spent the past 30 years developing and working in and around photonics. Beck was previously the Executive Vice President of Laser Light Engines, a company he founded in 2008.

In the press release announcing the move, Todd Hoddick, Vice President of Global Entertainment for Barco, pointed out that Beck had become the go-to guy when it came to laser illumination technology”

We simply call him ‘The Laser Guy’… For more than 10 years, he has been on the leading edge of laser technology and focused his efforts on the image quality and operating benefits of laser illumination for cinema exhibition and other high-performance projection applications.

LINK

Audio

QSC: The audio technology firm is bringing its latest product offering to CineEurope; the SR-1290. It is the newest entry to the company’s SR Series of surround sound speakers, that was developed with the requirements of emerging immersive audio formats in mind.

QSC's SR-1290

In the press release announcing the SR-1290, Barry Ferrell, Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer and Business Unit Manager for QSC’s Cinema Group, explained how the new speaker can help theatre owners overcome some of the challenges of immersive audio:

“A properly configured system requires many more surround loudspeakers and amplifier channels, which can mean a significantly higher cost compared to a 5.1 or 7.1 system. The loudspeakers must be capable of producing higher output, with features allowing them to be mounted in non-standard locations, and to be aimed with more precision. And more amplifier channels are needed to power all of these extra loudspeakers. The new SR-1290 addresses all of these needs. Since it is a coaxial design, the front baffle area is much smaller relative to a conventional ‘over-under’ horn and woofer configuration, resulting in a smaller enclosure, making mounting and aiming easier. Its high power rating and 4 ohm impedance means it draws more power from the amplifier and produces greater output compared to most 8 ohm loudspeakers in its class – which also means smaller amplifiers can be used to achieve maximum results, minimizing overall equipment costs.”

If you understand some of the tech-talk in Ferrell’s quote, then you might care about a few of the specs for the SR-1290 Cinema Surround Loudspeaker:

  • High-power, long-throw 12″ (305 mm) low-frequency transducer
  • Coaxially-mounted 1.75″ (44 mm) titanium diaphragm compression driver
  • Smaller enclosure design, coaxial alignment also creates frequencies perfectly aligned through the crossover region
  • Enclosure can be rotated with no effect on the coverage pattern
  • Safe and secure overhead mounting
  • Cabinet constructed of 15-mm Baltic birch plywood with internal bracing for superior structural integrity.
  • Four mounting points centered on the cabinet’s rear panel

QSC estimates the SR-1290 will be hitting the market in September 2014. LINK

Technology

USL's CMS-2200

USL: The cinema product manufacturer has been awarded a patent for innovations found in its CMS-2200. The DCI-compliant device is an integrated media server that plugs directly into a digital cinema projector and negates the need for external storage thanks to four solid state drives. The CMS-2200 also employs the DTS Multidimensional Audio engine for immersive audio and also supports 13.1 surround sound. Trying to pin down specifically what technology the patent was issued for was not successful, though this likely be due to our search methods.

USL product manager Bill Cribbs, pointed out a few of the CMS-2200′s newest features in the press release announcing the awarding of the patent:

“The CMS-2200 now has Cue bundling, which is the ability to group any number of automation cues into a bundle, greatly simplifying playlist creation. When used with the CMSA controller this provides an incredibly powerful automation solution. In the alternative content area, the CMS-2200 now supports HDMI auto switching, which means HDMI presentations can be placed directly into one playlist. An intermission feature was also added to playlist creation, which allows a user to insert an intermission playlist inside of a feature presentation.”

USL will be showing off the CMS-2200 during CineEurope. LINK

Digital Signage

NEC: No trade show for motion picture exhibitors would be complete without some news from companies supplying display signage of some form. Have no fear; NEC and Coca-Cola have admirably filled that role for this year’s CineEurope.

These days most of the signage being installed by cinema owners is digital. NEC Display Solutions and Coca-Cola are teaming up at the conference to create an interactive lounge that will demonstrate such capabilities as motion-activated movie promotions, synchronized monitors and video walls. According to the release:

Coca-Cola invited NEC Display Solutions, YCD Multimedia, Littlebit Technology and Intel to provide digital media and digital menu signage presence on its booth on the Trade Show. LINK

Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 5 May 2014

Astor Film Lounge

We don’t normally start with a non-English article (though Google/Chrome will easily translate it for you). But this is a good overview of how German exhibition is dealing with a contracting demand: 20 million fewer cinemas goers went to see a film in 2013 compared to 2003 and some 200 net cinema screen closed in that time. However, revenue has increased due to higher ticket prices and most of the screens closed were small single-screens, while the multiplexes are weathering the decline. But cinemas like the Astor Film Lounge in Berlin are going all-out for luxury.

The light in the hall of Cologne Residenz-Kinos is already dimmed, in a few minutes the film starts. Most visitors sit in wide leather armchairs, folded back with the backrest. With outstretched feet on the stools they listen quieter lounge music. “Your Mai-Tai,” a waitress says suddenly appears, smiles and places the cocktail on the arm of the chair. “Any other wish,” she asks – and then the surprise of the evening. “Popcorn isn’t something we sell.”

The concept of Residenz-Kinos cinema is anti-popcorn. The prototype of the cinema snacks does not fit in with what Andreas Lühnstroth imagines for his movie theater. Too sticky, too stinky, too ordinary to him is the popcorn. “Many of our guests want something else,” he says.

The Residenz-Kinos is one of four Astor Film Lounge in Germany belonging to premium entertainment. The company specializes in luxury cinemas. The offer guests additional services – from the welcome drink at the bar on particularly comfortable cinema seat to the operation of place. And this service has its price.  LINK

 Concessions

Beacon Cinema

Bringing your own food into the cinemas, remains a highly charged issue, at least in the US. It can often lead to unpleasant altercations.

From time to time, outraged patrons have vented their spleen, complaining of searches and seizures at the Pittsfield movie house. In his letter, Karel Rose, a New York City college professor who lives part time in Lenox, complained of what felt like a “personal assault” during a recent Saturday Met Opera in HD screening.

“An arrogant assistant manager who shall remain nameless patrolled the aisles searching for any food that was brought into the theater, either in our hands, pockets or handbags. … Next to me was a woman, in her 80s, taking the last bite out of her sandwich. He demanded what was left, and trembling, she gave it to him.”

As Rose told it, “this self-appointed policeman saw a pear in my handbag and insisted that I give it to him. I explained that I would not eat it. He continued to harass me and others in the room.”  LINK

It is a complex issue with no clear villains (cinemas staff have had allergic reactions to patrons bringing in nuts) and small cinemas in particular rely on food and beverage sales.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 30 April 2014

Jeffrey Katzenberg

There is really only one story to begin with today - Jeffrey Katzenberg is definitely off John Fithian’s Christmas Card list.

Not only did Mr Peabody and Sherman underwhelm at the box office, but now the head of Dreamworks Animation has suggested that the theatrical release window for first run feature films could shrink to just over two weeks.

“I think the model will change and you won’t pay for the window of availability. A movie will come out and you will have 17 days, that’s exactly three weekends, which is 95% of the revenue for 98% of movies. On the 18th day, these movies will be available everywhere ubiquitously and you will pay for the size. A movie screen will be $15. A 75” TV will be $4.00. A smartphone will be $1.99. That enterprise that will exist throughout the world, when that happens, and it will happen, it will reinvent the enterprise of movies,” he told the crowd.

And according to Katzenberg, this scenario will play out 10 years from now.  LINK

In fact, you don’t have to look as far into the future as 10 years to see this come true. This situation is already the case in the world’s second largest film industry – India – where a big studio film will appear on pay-per-view as quickly as two week after its cinema release. But only if it does badly at the box office. Like Mr Peabody & Sherman did.

My Cinema logo

Australia: A joint marketing a promotion initiative for independent cinemas in Australia has been launched on the first day of the  Independent Cinemas Association of Australia conference in Sydney.

ICAA is keen to see Australian films benefit from access to the My Cinema platform. Results would be measured against past performance to ensure the platform is effective in growing the market for Australian film, she said.

All 93 members of the association, representing 830 screens which equate to more than 80% of the independent sector, are automatically part of the My Cinema group. The initiative will result in cost savings in delivery and improve the box-office by giving indie cinemas greater visibility in the national market, she said.

Promo trailers, sneak peek clips and footage of interviews and events will be compiled for a My Cinema channel sent to participating cinemas and foyer screens.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 16 April 2014

Phil Knatchbull Curzon

London’s Evening standard does an in-depth piece on British art-house major Curzon Cinema and its visionary CEO Phil Knatchbull.

The Curzon Victoria is part of a £6 million London expansion by the company behind the boutique Curzon cinema chain as it almost doubles the number of screens in the capital from 12 to 20. Curzon World is using other designers to rejuvenate the Curzon Soho and the Renoir in Bloomsbury, and is expanding beyond the M25 into Canterbury. The long-term plan is to have 50 screens at 25 sites.

Chief executive Philip Knatchbull explains he wants the cinemas to grow in importance as a showcase for the upmarket Curzon brand, even as the company diversifies by generating more income from other sources. Film production, cinema distribution and the online streaming of films, with its own Curzon Home Cinema on-demand service, are other parts of Knatchbull’s multi-pronged growth strategy.  LINK

I can attest that Curzon is not just the leading art-house cinema chain in the UK but perhaps one of the top in the whole world. They don’t just kit out their cinemas with the precision of Apple Stores (but less minimalist), but also operate their own day-and-date VOD service, have distributed more Cannes Palm d’Or winning films than any other UK distributor (they say) and even produce their own films. Much like every UK town would like a Waitrose supermarket, so to most high streets there would welcome a Curzon cinema with open arms.

Licensing

Penthouse Cinema Brooklyn Wellington

New Zealand: An art-house cinema in Sir Peter Jackson’s hometown Wellington won’t be able to serve alcohol over the busy Easter period due to planning restrictions.

The boutique Brooklyn venue applied for the licence to serve alcohol on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, after discovering it was no longer exempt as an entertainment venue since the introduction of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act in December.

Operations manager Kate Larkindale said she was stunned when a letter from the district licensing authority arrived on March 19, telling her she would have to apply for a special licence.

Under the new law, alcohol can be served on “sacrosanct days” – Anzac Day morning, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Christmas Day – only with a meal, unless an exemption is granted for an “event”.  LINK

(Would it be churlish to point out that Jesus had to make do with drinking vinegar from a sponge up on the cross over Easter?)

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